SECURITY COUNCIL, RECALLING RESOLUTION 1325 (2000), SEEKS MEASURES TO STRENGTHEN ROLE OF WOMEN IN PEACEKEEPING, POST-CONFLICT SITUATIONS

26 October 2006
SC/8858

SECURITY COUNCIL, RECALLING RESOLUTION 1325 (2000), SEEKS MEASURES TO STRENGTHEN ROLE OF WOMEN IN PEACEKEEPING, POST-CONFLICT SITUATIONS

26 October 2006
Security Council
SC/8858
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5556th Meeting* (AM & PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL, RECALLING RESOLUTION 1325 (2000), SEEKS MEASURES TO STRENGTHEN

ROLE OF WOMEN IN PEACEKEEPING, POST-CONFLICT SITUATIONS

 

Presidential Statement, After All-Day Meeting, Notes Some Progress; Many

Delegates Assert Gender Equality Remains Elusive, Violence Still Major Problem

Recognizing that the protection and empowerment of women, their networks and initiatives were essential in the consolidation of peace, the promotion of women’s equal participation and their improved human security, the Security Council today acknowledged the vital roles and contributions by women in building peace, and encouraged Member States, donors and civil society to provide support in that regard, as it marked the sixth anniversary of its landmark resolution 1325 (2000) in a day-long debate on women, peace and security.

In a statement read out this evening by the Council President, Kenzo Oshima (Japan), the Council welcomed progress made in increasing women’s participation in decision-making in several countries emerging from conflict, and it requested the Secretary-General to identify remaining gaps and challenges to further promote the effective implementation of resolution 1325.  Recognizing the importance of integrating gender perspectives into institutional reform in post-conflict countries, at both the national and local levels, the statement encouraged Member States in post-conflict situations to mainstream gender perspectives in institutional reform, ensuring that the reforms provide for the protection of women’s rights and safety.

Deeply concerned by the pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women in armed conflicts, including killing, maiming and grave sexual violence, the Council reiterated its utmost condemnation of such practices.  It called upon all parties in armed conflict to ensure full and effective protection of women and emphasized the need to end impunity for those responsible for gender-based violence.  Condemning again, in the strongest terms, all acts of sexual misconduct by United Nations peacekeeping personnel, the Council expressed its support for further efforts by the United Nations to fully implement codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.

With some 50 speakers taking part in the debate, the Council took stock of progress achieved in implementing resolution 1325, six years after its adoption.  It focused, in particular, on the first follow-up report to assess implementation of the United Nations System-wide Action Plan for the resolution’s implementation.

Rachel N. Mayanja, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, presenting the Secretary-General’s report, said the collective efforts to ensure women’s equal participation in peace consolidation had generally fallen short in the last year.  From the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Sudan, and from Somalia to Timor-Leste, women continued to be exposed to violence and marginalized in formal processes.  While States had a vested interest in maintaining peace and security, it was no secret that, even with political will at the top and pressure from women’s groups below, many Governments were hesitant to challenge pre-conflict societal values.  The full and effective implementation of resolution 1325 would require all the will and creativity the international community could muster.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, noted that, despite the efforts of his Department to implement resolution 1325, real gaps remained.  In seeking to transform the Department’s working culture, pockets of resistance remained.  In that regard, there was a need to build a critical mass of male champions to support the translation into practice of commitments to gender equality.  Deploying a greater number of women peacekeepers was an operational imperative.  Member States needed to invest resources in creating a stable and secure environment that would allow women to ensure dignity and hope in a post-conflict environment.

Describing peace consolidation as an uncertain enterprise, Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said peace consolidation must include ending impunity for sexual violence and raising the political and economic costs to those who engaged in it.  On the ground in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, UNIFEM was seeing the public space for women shrink.  Women were becoming targets for assassination when they defended their rights in public decision-making, and everywhere there was evidence of sexual and gender-based violence.  While, across all conflicts, UNIFEM had witnessed women’s willingness to take risks, more was needed than their bravery; systems needed to be in place.

Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General, Peacebuilding Support Office, stressed the need to support women’s roles in the fabric of communities and as agents of change in peacebuilding support.  For that reason, her Office was exploring ways to further engage women’s civil society organizations in reconstruction efforts.  The Peacebuilding Commission provided an unprecedented opportunity to improve on past practices.  Indeed, resolution 1325 was one of the underpinnings of the Commission’s architecture.  As women were disproportionately affected by conflict, they must be given disproportionate attention as well, including by the Peacebuilding Fund.  The Peacebuilding Support Office would work with all actors to make sure women’s key roles in society were taken into account.

Appealing to the United Nations not to hold women hostage to the political situation in Burundi, Christine Miturumbwe, Coordinator of the Dushirehamwe Association, said Burundian women had long committed themselves to peace.  Emerging from a 10-year conflict that had caused great material damage and human suffering, sustained efforts by the international community were needed to consolidate peace.  Highlighting the most pressing issues facing women, she said the 30 per cent quota for women’s participation in decision-making should not only be raised to 50 per cent, but should also be applied to women at the local level.  With women unable to inherit land, she hoped the Peacebuilding Commission would consider support for Burundi’s land commission as one of its top priorities.

In the discussion that followed, speakers expressed concern that, six years after the adoption of the groundbreaking resolution, the Council still had no systematic way to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in its work.  While progress had been made, translating the goals of resolution 1325 into reality on the ground remained a challenge.  In that regard, speakers stressed the need for the Peacebuilding Commission to incorporate a gender perspective in its activities.  Speakers also emphasized the need for countries, especially those emerging from conflict, to adopt national action plans.

Also speaking today were the representatives of France, Ghana, the Russian Federation, Papua New Guinea (on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum), Norway, Canada, China, Denmark, Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Slovenia, Peru, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Sweden, Germany, Qatar, Congo, the United States, the Netherlands, Iceland, Uganda, Greece, the United Republic of Tanzania, Japan, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Spain, Fiji, Guinea, Lesotho (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Egypt, El Salvador, the Sudan, Israel, Croatia, Myanmar, Kenya, Liechtenstein and Comoros.

The President of the non-governmental organization Rede Feto also made a statement.

The meeting began at 10:12 a.m., suspended at 1:06 p.m., resumed at 3:06 p.m. and adjourned at 6:13 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The complete text of presidential statement S/PRST/2006/42 reads as follows:

“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the full and effective implementation of resolution 1325(2000) and recalls the statements by its President of 31 October 2001 (S/PRST/2001/31), 31 October 2002 (S/PRST/2002/32), 28 October 2004 (S/PRST/2004/40), and 27 October 2005 (S/PRST/2005/52), as reiterating that commitment.

“The Security Council recalls the 2005 World Summit Outcome (A/RES/60/1), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (A/52/231), the outcomes of the Conference and of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, and the Declaration of the forty-ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (E/CN.6/2005/1).

“The Security Council recognizes the vital roles of, and contributions by, women in consolidating peace.  The Council welcomes that the progress made in increasing participation of women in decision-making in several countries emerging from conflict and requests the Secretary-General to collect and compile good practices, lessons learned and identify remaining gaps and challenges in order to further promote the efficient and effective implementation of resolution 1325.

“The Security Council recognizes that the protection and empowerment of women and support for their networks and initiatives are essential in the consolidation of peace to promote the equal and full participation of women and to improve their human security and, encourages Member States, donors and civil society to provide support in this respect.

“The Security Council recognizes the importance of integrating gender perspectives into institutional reform in post-conflict countries at both the national and local levels.  The Security Council encourages Member States in post-conflict situations to ensure that gender perspectives are mainstreamed in its institutional reform, ensuring that the reforms, in particular of the security sector, justice institutions and restoration of the rule of law, provide for the protection of women’s rights and safety.  The Council also requests the Secretary-General to ensure that United Nations assistance in this context appropriately addresses the needs and priorities of women in the post-conflict process.

“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to ensure that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes take specific account of the situation of women ex-combatants and women associated with combatants, as well as their children, and provide for their full access to these programmes.

“The Security Council welcomes the role that the Peacebuilding Commission can play in mainstreaming gender perspectives into the peace consolidation process.  In this context, the Council welcomes in particular the Chairman’s summaries at its country-specific meetings on Sierra Leone and Burundi on 12 and 13 October 2006.

“The Security Council remains deeply concerned by the pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women in armed conflicts, including killing, maiming, grave sexual violence, abductions and trafficking in persons.  The Council reiterates its utmost condemnation of such practices and calls upon all parties to armed conflict to ensure full and effective protection of women, and emphasizes the necessity to end impunity of those responsible for gender-based violence.

“The Security Council reiterates its condemnation, in the strongest terms, of all acts of sexual misconduct by all categories of personnel in United Nations Peacekeeping Missions.  The Council urges the Secretary-General and troop-contributing countries to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping (A/60/19).  In this connection, the Council expresses its support for further efforts by the United Nations to fully implement codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse, and enhance monitoring and enforcement mechanisms based on a zero-tolerance policy.

“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to include in his reporting to the Security Council, progress in gender mainstreaming throughout United Nations peacekeeping missions, as well as on other aspects relating specifically to women and girls.  The Council emphasizes the need for the inclusion of gender components in peacekeeping operations.  The Council further encourages Member States and the Secretary-General to increase, the participation of women in all areas and all levels of peacekeeping operations, civilian, police and military, where possible.

“The Security Council reiterates its call to Member States to continue to implement resolution 1325 (2000), including through the development and implementation of national action plans or other national level strategies.

“The Security Council recognizes the important contribution of civil society to the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and encourages Member States to continue to collaborate with civil society, in particular with local women’s networks and organizations, in order to strengthen implementation.

“The Security Council looks forward to the report of the High-Level Panel on the United Nations System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment, and hopes this will play a role in ensuring a coordinated United Nations approach to women and peace and security.

“The Security Council welcomes the first follow-up report of the Secretary-General (S/2006/770) on the United Nations System-wide Action Plan for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) across the United Nations system.  The Council requests the Secretary-General to continue to update, monitor and review the implementation and integration of the Action Plan and report to the Security Council as stipulated in the statement by the President of the Security Council of 27 October 2005 (S/PRST/2005/52).”

Background

The Security Council had before it the Secretary-General’s report on women, peace and security (document S/2006/770), which presents a comprehensive assessment of the first eight months of the implementation of the United Nations System-wide Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  Achieving the goal of gender equality, as set forth in the United Nations Charter and Council resolution 1325 (2000), is a primary responsibility of Member States and an area requiring United Nations assistance.

While gender equality is increasingly recognized as a core issue in the maintenance of international peace and security, women’s role in peace processes continues to be viewed as a side issue rather than as fundamental to the development of viable democratic institutions and the establishment of sustainable peace, the report states.  The System-wide Action Plan for the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) reflects those global dynamics.  Comprising a wealth of system-wide information on current activities, the Plan represents the first attempt to develop an integrated and coherent approach to promote the issues of women, peace and security, and mainstream a gender perspective into United Nations programmes and policies dealing with peace and security.

The review of the Plan’s implementation by the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women shows that United Nations system organizations have made commendable efforts, the report says.  The Council-mandated review following last year’s debate shows that significant progress has been made in such areas as peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding.  United Nations entities are carrying out innovative projects to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in armed conflict and provide humanitarian assistance to populations.  The review also identified weaknesses in the Plan’s implementation, however, proposing a series of concrete actions in that regard.

Key priorities for further action include continued engagement with Member States; development of an effective accountability, monitoring and reporting system for a new cycle of the Action Plan; strengthened system-wide capacity; enhanced coordination across the United Nations system; and alignment of resources with priorities.  In bringing the Action Plan to a new level, the United Nations system can become a more strategic partner to Member States, supporting their capacities to ensure international peace and security, and turning gender equality commitments into reality.

Briefings by United Nations Officials

RACHEL MAYANJA, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, introduced the Secretary-General’s report, which she said contained a comprehensive and candid assessment of the first eight months of the System-wide Action Plan for implementation of the resolution 1325 (2000).  While the report showed that United Nations system entities had made commendable efforts and there had been significant progress in the Action Plan’s implementation in many areas, it also showed that such challenges as inadequate gender mainstreaming capacity and accountability, uneven leadership and commitment, inadequate coordination and coherence, and insufficient resources had constrained the Action Plan’s effective implementation.  The report included measures to address those shortcomings, including a more robust reporting, monitoring and accountability system to accelerate the resolution’s implementation.

Women were critical to the consolidation of peace, she said.  The consolidation of peace was an opportunity to redress grievances and problems that had led to conflict in the first place.  It carried the promise of establishing equality in a democratic environment and reforming institutions in ways that enabled women to take full advantage of opportunities presented through the restoration of peace.  Yet, the past year had demonstrated that collective efforts to ensure women’s equal participation in the consolidation of peace, so far, had generally fallen short of what was required.  From the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Sudan, and from Somalia to Timor-Leste, women continued to be exposed to violence or targeted by parties to the conflict, marginalized in formal processes and lacking the basic means of survival and health care.

She said it was axiomatic that States, particularly those emerging from conflict situations, and their Governments had a vested interest in maintaining peace and security, and hence, in bringing about political reorganization of society and establishing credible institutions that could result in human security for all, but particularly for women and girls.  There was no secret, however, that even with political will at the top and pressure from women’s groups below, many Governments were generally hesitant to challenge pre-conflict societal values and norms that were often deeply patriarchal and wedded to customary practices.  To overcome that challenge, four conditions needed to be met.  The international community had to summon all the political will possible to meet its commitments to women in the peace and security realm.  Governments needed to establish clear accountability systems for the resolution’s implementation.  The Council needed to provide more effective leadership to monitor progress in the field and encourage States to do more.  States and United Nations entities needed to allocate sufficient resources and capacities for the resolution’s implementation.

Governments had the primary responsibility for the consolidation of peace and gender mainstreaming, and should take a leading role in coordinating, monitoring and assessing progress in those areas, she said.  Civil society had been active in the national implementation process, holding Governments accountable and injecting new dynamism into societies.  The full and effective implementation of resolution 1325 would require all the will and creativity the international community could muster.  The international community could achieve sustainable peace if it used the tools, resources and knowledge it had at its disposal to fully empower women.  The United Nations would, for its part, remain a strong partner to Member States and civil society.

JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, noted that Liberia, which had elected Africa’s first woman President, had also adopted a law against rape.  The women of Sierra Leone had passed laws on trafficking, inheritance and property rights.  The women of Timor-Leste had presented a bill to that country’s Parliament on domestic violence.  He paid tribute to women in the various countries who had made specific efforts to ensure the resolution’s implementation.  Yet, despite such positive developments, challenges and violations against gender equality were still numerous in many post-conflict situations.

Outlining three priority areas for peacekeeping work, he said there was first the issue of insecurity and the threats that many women experienced, even after the guns had become silent.  In many societies, violence was used as a means of controlling movements and actions.  In Afghanistan, the attacks on schools endangered the lives of young girls who were merely exercising their right to education.  In Darfur, women and girls were raped when they went to look for firewood.  In Liberia, more than 40 per cent of women and young girls had been the victims of sexual violence.  In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 12,000 rapes of women and young girls had been recorded in the last six months.  The consequences of rape were long-lasting, including the increased risk of illness and social stigma.

He said another priority area was the need to ensure lasting support to women in the political arena, so that they could be part of the decision-making process.  To date, the most notable successes that had enabled women to obtain positions of responsibility had been recorded where constitutional guarantees were provided to ensure for women’s political participation.  Where the quota system was absent, women represented only a small percentage of national legislatures.  Ensuring that women could exercise the right to vote or be elected was only a first step, however, in a long process to enable women to exercise positions of responsibility.  The third priority was the need to amend and reform discriminatory laws, in order to ensure women’s participation in the peace process.  In some countries, women did not have the right to inherit land.  Access to land was an essential condition to achieve economic equality.  The adoption of national and customary laws that ensured effective equality for women must be sought.

Turning to actions by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to implement resolution 1325, he said the Department had adopted concrete strategies to support the resolution’s implementation, including the adoption of an action plan and the development of guidelines for mission personnel.  The Department also continued to ensure that peacekeepers were held to the highest levels of professionalism.  Real gaps remained, however, in the resolution’s implementation.  In seeking to transform its working culture, pockets of resistance remained.  Some personnel had yet to understand their own responsibility for the resolution’s implementation and that it was not the sole responsibility of gender advisors, or that it could be simply outsourced to partners.  There was a need to build a critical mass of male champions to advocate and support the translation of commitments to gender equality into practice.  He believed that his Department needed a senior male envoy to support its political advocacy efforts.

Clearly, the Department could do better, and it was stepping up its efforts to do so, he said.  The Department’s action plan provided the framework to guide its future efforts.  Beyond the actions of the Department, some outstanding challenges could best be addressed through relations with Member States.  Member States needed to nominate more women candidates for senior positions in peacekeeping missions.  To engage more effectively with local populations, a greater number of women peacekeepers must be deployed.  That was an operational imperative.  Oftentimes, the only full-time and robust capacity to support gender-related activities resided in the peacekeeping mission.  United Nations partners needed to be on the ground from the beginning with the resources to support women in the wide range of areas that fell beyond the scope of United Nations peacekeeping.  Member States needed to invest resources in creating a stable and secure environment that would allow women to ensure dignity and hope in a post-conflict environment.

NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said peace consolidation was an uncertain enterprise: “Today, we must ask what else is urgently needed, and how Security Council resolution 1325 could be more effectively implemented to bring about just and sustainable peace,” she said.  She emphasized that the parties to the conflict were not always the parties negotiating the peace, and peacebuilding and consolidation required that all parties with an interest in peace were engaged in negotiating a new social contract, building institutions of a new society and re-establishing livelihoods.

“Women are a crucial resource in this process,” she continued.  “Peace agreements, early recovery and post-conflict governance do better when women are involved.”  She added that women made a difference partly because they adopted a more inclusive approach to peace and security and addressed key social and economic issues that provided the foundations of a sustainable peace that might otherwise be ignored.  “Women know the cost of war; what it means to be subject to sexual violence designed to destroy communities, what it means to be displaced, to flee their homes and property, to be excluded from public life and regarded as less than full citizens,” she declared.

She also stressed that peace consolidation must include ending impunity for sexual violence and raising the political and economic costs to those who engaged in it, making sure they were not rewarded with State power or high profile jobs as a result of negotiated peace agreements. “Two of women’s most urgent needs are for physical safety and economic security,” she said.  “Efforts to engage women in public decision-making will not succeed if women risk continued violence for taking public roles, and they cannot be expected to be effective public actors if they have no source of livelihood.”  On the ground, in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, UNIFEM was seeing the public space for women shrink.  Women were becoming targets for assassination when they defended their rights in public decision-making, and everywhere there was evidence of sexual and gender-based violence.

While, across all conflicts, UNIFEM had witnessed women’s willingness to take risks, more was needed than their bravery; systems needed to be in place, she said.  In peace consolidation, the international community must invest in reforming the security sector to ensure women’s safety, particularly where armies or police had been a source of the violence they had experienced.  In Rwanda, for instance, when the police had said that they could not protect women because they lacked the vehicles for rapid response, UNIFEM had organized an inter-agency response to set up specialized gender desks in police stations, and had provided them with training, hotlines and motorcycles to reach women in remote areas.  She also stressed that sustainable peace required “real justice” for women, in accordance with international human rights standards, and that peace processes required institutional change and stronger accountability systems.

CAROLYN MCASKIE, Assistant Secretary-General, Peacebuilding Support Office, said that, from her peacekeeping experience, she had found that resolution 1325 had already had a great impact on the ground, though a mainstreamed gender perspective could never be assumed.  In peacebuilding support, women’s roles in the fabric of communities and as agents of change must be recognized.  For that reason, her Office was exploring ways to further engage women’s civil society organizations in reconstruction efforts, as well as ways of building protection for women and girls into all planning.

The Peacebuilding Commission could have a great impact in those efforts, and the Support Office could provide analysis and other support.  There was an unprecedented opportunity to improve on past practices, with the United Nations experienced presence on the ground integrated into all efforts.  Resolution 1325 was one of the underpinnings of the architecture of the Commission.  As it was, by now, well known that women and girls were disproportionately affected by conflict, they must be given disproportionate attention as well, including by the Peacebuilding Fund.  The Peacebuilding Support Office would try to ensure that that happened, and it would work with all actors to make sure women’s key roles in society were taken into account.

Statements

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE ( France) said that, last year, the fifth anniversary of Council resolution 1325 had provided a chance to examine implementation efforts and identify some progress in the consolidation of the role of women in relevant resolutions.  The Council could see that resolution 1325 had changed peacekeeping operations the most, as evinced by, among others, more systematic integration of “women, peace and security” matters into peace operation mandates, and the extremely positive role being played by missions’ Gender Focal Points.

But, unfortunately, that five-year review had also revealed implementation gaps and a number of promises not kept, he said, noting that the crisis in Darfur and the situation in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern Ituri province showed that violence, especially sexual violence, against women, continued to be widespread and was often carried out with impunity.  The Secretary-General’s report noted the gap in progress made in the normative sphere, whether through resolution 1325, international humanitarian law or the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the persistence of violence against women on the ground.  France and the Netherlands were set to introduce a draft in the General Assembly that would, among other things, ask United Nations organs to examine ways and means to reduce that gap.

France believed that the new Human Rights Council, which could follow situations throughout the year and hold emergency meetings, had an important role to play in that area, by reacting to serious violations of women’s rights, addressing recommendations to other bodies or supporting cooperation activities undertaken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  He said that France also believed that some of the priorities for ensuring women’s full participation in peacebuilding and reconstruction included the rehabilitation of victims, particularly of sexual violence.  How could lasting peace be restored when women, already victimized during conflict, saw themselves subsequently ostracized from their own communities? he asked.  Other priorities were the administration of justice, full participation in the decision-making process and the establishment of institutions endorsing parity.

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) said that, on balance, the international community had only paid lip service to the aspirations underpinning the epoch-making resolution, through inconsistent implementation, especially in most developing countries, such as his own.  To make real progress, implementation at the national level must be taken seriously, taking into account the high prevalence of illiteracy and other factors that placed women outside the mainstream and, therefore, out of most programmes.

In addition, he said there should be better coordination between public institutions that dealt with peacekeeping and women’s affairs.  In Ghana, for example, that would apply to the ministries for women’s affairs, internal affairs and defence.  Troop-contributing countries must also mainstream gender issues in their activities and, in international efforts to draw up national action plans, women at the grass-roots level must be encouraged to play a larger role.  At the global level, the Security Council should play a more proactive role by setting up an expert-level working group on women, peace and security.

ILYA ROGACHEV ( Russian Federation) said that the resolution’s provisions must be applied consistently throughout all units of the United Nations, and women must participate throughout all phases of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  Gaps needed to be filled in the Action Plan, through the enhancement of the effectiveness of existing mechanisms, the provision of better information and better use of the Special Advisor’s office and existing reporting.  Any extension of the Action Plan should ensure that the issue of women’s equality in peace and security remained front and centre in the international agenda.

ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, described local and regional initiatives to implement resolution 1325, including a programme to train key governmental representatives on the resolution’s importance and to translate it into local languages.  A number of vibrant women’s non-governmental organizations in the region were also working to ensure the resolution’s implementation.  Such progress illustrated what was possible when the international donor community supported local and regional initiatives.  Some projects, however, had unfortunately seized or stagnated.  Sustainability of funding was, therefore, vital to ensuring the success of all programmes related to resolution 1325.

Efforts to implement the resolution in the Pacific were part of the region’s long-term commitment, he said.  The landmark Pacific plan adopted by leaders in 2005 had provided a broad definition of security that included human security and a cross-cutting objective to improve women’s security.  A meeting in 2007 would provide an opportunity for Pacific women to review progress towards the goal of implementing resolution 1325.   It was also important to ensure that countries embraced resolution 1325 as a framework for peacekeeping missions.  Welcoming Fiji’s membership in the Peacebuilding Commission, he also welcomed the establishment of a senior gender adviser.

JOHAN L. LØVALD ( Norway) said that, while resolution 1325 had led to progress, much more should be done at all levels.  To gain a clearer understanding of how 1325 translated into change on the ground, a review team comprised of representatives from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Norway had visited four major United Nations peacekeeping operations, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Kosovo.  The review team had been impressed by the dedication of the gender advisers in the missions.  They had made significant progress in the resolution’s implementation in the field, particularly in the rule of law and political participation.  A number of challenges were common to all four missions, including that the gender focus had been missing from the earliest stages of mission development, and it received inadequate resources and limited accountability.  The review team had found a strong correlation between the inclusion of gender perspectives in the missions’ activities and the level of cooperation between the individual mission and the United Nations country team.

While there were examples of best practices, there was a clear need for a more robust systematic approach to gender issues, starting with the mandates, he said.  There was a need for better indicators of successful gender mainstreaming in integrated planning processes.  A clear and visible implementation plan was necessary.  Also, adequate resources must be allocated.  It was also important to plan for the longer term, and it was critical to keep the long-term objectives in mind, in order to ensure a smooth transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, in which the United Nations country teams should play a key role.  The United Nations country teams should strive for a fully integrated gender plan that reflected the objectives of resolution 1325, including clear accountability, division of labour and specific actions to be taken.  While he was encouraged by the growing number of women in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the relative low number of women in senior management positions must be remedied.

JOHN MCNEE ( Canada), endorsing the statement made by Slovenia on behalf of the Human Security Network, said that a greater focus was needed both on the increased direct participation of women in peace processes and on gender-aware institutional reform.  Attention to gender equality also must be systematically integrated into all the operations of the Peacebuilding Commission and all operations monitored by the Security Council.  For that purpose, more effective data-monitoring systems and reporting mechanisms were needed.

In addition, he said it was important to build an effective international capacity to prevent and respond to situations where civilians, particularly women, were at high risk.  Canada would continue to monitor the implementation of the Council’s commitments, including in country-specific contexts, and to support work that enhanced the Council’s and wider international efforts in that regard.  Finally, he urged the Peacebuilding Commission to develop modalities to ensure the active participation of civil society, particularly women’s groups, in peacebuilding and long-term development efforts from the outset.

LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said that existing outcomes in the area of women, peace and security should be followed up proactively and comprehensively, with the Security Council playing a critical role.  Such outcomes set out clear and long-term requirements, which needed to be met jointly through collective efforts by the Member States and various United Nations bodies, agencies and programmes.  The Council should strive to remove the root causes of conflicts and intensify conflict prevention and peacekeeping, so as to create an enabling environment for the survival and development of all vulnerable groups.

He said that, in all phases of the peace process, the status and role of women should receive adequate attention.  An awareness and culture of paying attention to and respecting women should be formed.  It was imperative to heed women’s special needs and concerns at the different stages of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  In the years ahead, the Peacebuilding Commission should accord priority to women in post-conflict situations and encourage them to participate in activities related to peacebuilding.

He said that, in the process of United Nations reform, efforts should be made to enhance the Organization’s inter-agency coordination and capacity-building in the field of women, peace and security, while optimizing resource allocation.  He hoped that the Secretary-General’s System-wide Action Plan received the necessary follow-up and was integrated with the United Nations reform process.  The Security Council should coordinate with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in its work on issues related to women.

ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) said that activities undertaken to implement resolution 1325, such as workshops and gender-inclusive procedures, were good stepping stones for women’s progress in peace and security issues, but it was not clear whether they were making the intended difference on the ground.  A lack of leadership in both intergovernmental bodies and in the United Nations system, as well as a lack of a common understanding of gender mainstreaming, blocked further progress.

To really make a difference, she said, gender advisors must be appointed at senior level, and their efforts must be matched by the necessary resources.  Better assessment and monitoring tools were also needed.  In addition, all multilateral and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and Member States must work to implement the resolution, and the Peacebuilding Commission should further such cooperation.  Finally, she described a range of initiatives her country was pursuing, which she hoped would help translate resolution 1325 into action.

CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said he wished to remind the Council of the important role that women had played in the democratization process in his country, when they had decided to unite in search of the truth of what really had happened to their children and grandchildren who had been victims of enforced disappearances that had characterized the military dictatorship in Argentina.  At that time, those groups of women had not had an international legal framework to protect them on their way towards the truth.  Further, the international community had only acknowledged women as victims of conflicts rather than as protagonists of peace processes, or as fundamental actors in a lasting peace process. 

He said Argentina’s own experience made it recognize the importance of national action plans for the implementation of resolution 1325.  Those plans should be elaborated through a participative process that included monitoring and accountability mechanisms for the Governments to assure not only that the greatest number of women participated in the country’s decision-making process, but also that their demands and needs were taken into consideration at all levels, especially in the institutional reform processes.  It was necessary to assure a systematic implementation of resolution 1325 in all spheres of United Nations work, starting with the inclusion of a gender perspective in all resolutions of the Council, including those that established or extended a peace operation, and in the terms of reference for missions undertaken by the Council.

He added that he supported the publication of the study of all forms of violence against women.  The Council must be regularly informed about such cases, in order to put an end to impunity and hold accountable the parties to the conflict for such violations.

ROBERT HILL ( Australia) said his country’s strong support for resolution 1325 since its inception was demonstrated in both its domestic actions and through its support for countries in his region in their efforts to implement the resolution.  This year, for example, Australia had supported a Pacific Islands Forum regional workshop on gender, conflict, peace and security -- the first of its kind in the Pacific.  Australia was also supporting two non-governmental organization projects aimed at enhancing action towards the resolution’s full implementation.  The projects, among other things, would develop a regional network of women, whose names could be put forward by their respective Governments for nomination, to positions in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Domestically, Australia was also taking steps to back its support for resolution 1325 with concrete action, he said.  Australia actively engaged women in its peacebuilding efforts.  Gender equality had been clearly articulated as an overarching principle in the new “White Paper” on Australia’s aid programme.  A new gender policy was being developed to underpin that commitment, and practical guidelines had been developed to bring into operation strategies for promoting the role of women.  Advances had also been made in giving effect to the links between gender, development, human rights, peace, security and justice.  Resolution 1325 reaffirmed the role of women in preventing and resolving conflicts, and encouraged making women central to negotiating peace agreements, peacekeeping operations and reconstructing societies stricken by war.  It made gender equality and a gender perspective relevant to all Security Council actions.

He stressed that women’s concerns must be addressed not just in the early stages of peace processes, but also in post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction, as well as in broader development efforts.  Gender equality was fundamental not just to achieving peace, but also to longer-term development and the prevention of conflict.

DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) noted that, with the adoption of resolution 1325, the important contributions by women in the maintenance of peace and security had been realized.  Women were not simply victims of war, but important players in the resolution of those conflicts.  There had been a growing demand for women’s inclusion in peace negotiations.  What remained was the lack of much needed political will to allow women to participate in conflict resolution.  Promoting women’s roles in peace consolidation underscored the resolution’s main principles -- the need for the full and unrestricted participation of women in all decision-making processes; the importance of integrating gender perspectives into peacekeeping operations; the obligation to protect women from human rights abuses, and the need to mainstream gender into United Nations reporting systems and programme-implementation mechanisms.

He said women had come together in the Great Lakes Region and in the Mano River Basin to decide on their own future and to organize their participation in national reconciliation.  Yet, it remained disheartening that sexually based violence continued in conflict areas; in some parts of the world, gender-based violence had reached epidemic proportions.  Efforts to monitor and report such violence in situations of armed conflict must be complemented by national measures to end impunity and bring those responsible to justice.  South Africa supported the United Nations efforts to implement codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures that prevented sexual exploitation, while enhancing mechanisms in peace missions.

Full achievement of the resolution could become a reality only through strengthened accountability at all levels of the United Nations system.  The Peacebuilding Commission also presented an opportunity for the integration of a gender perspective in all stages of peace consolidation.

ROMAN KIRN (Slovenia), on behalf of the Human Security Network, called for the creation of a Security Council mechanism to monitor its own actions in integrating resolution 1325 into its work, because, six years after its adoption, women were still not equal partners in peace processes, and gender-based violence was increasing.  The newly established Peacebuilding Commission, and other parts of the United Nations system, also needed to pay full attention to integrating women equally into their work at all levels.

The issue of violence against women also needed to receive adequate attention during and after armed conflict, he said.  In addition, all peacekeeping missions needed to strictly obey the zero-tolerance policy in regard to sexual exploitation and abuse.  He called on both the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission to take the lead in building a genuinely gender-blind culture that would provide benefits to individuals and to society as a whole.

JORGE VOTO-BERNALES ( Peru) said women continued to suffer disproportionately from armed conflict in terrible ways, and the situation must be addressed at all levels, including by creating tribunals for human rights violations.  He supported speeding up the implementation of resolution 1325, and said the Action Plan should be extended in accordance with the Secretary-General’s report.

Barriers to women’s participation at all levels of peacekeeping and governance needed to be removed, he added, and a gender perspective must continue to be mainstreamed into all peacekeeping operations.  Women’s groups were particularly important in making sure that the resolution was known and implemented fully.

PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) said that active and equal participation of women in peace and security processes represented the best tool for the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and all other forms of violence against women.  Despite all the efforts of the international community, women in conflict situations continued to face violence, including sexual violence, and abuses, which were often used as weapons of war.  Much remained to be done to eradicate the evil of gender-based violence.  Women were still very often ignored or excluded from formal peace processes and peace negotiations.  A more coherent and systematic approach by the international community was needed to address the requirements and obligations of resolution 1325, in order to improve the situation of women and increase their participation in peacebuilding activities.

He strongly condemned the continued widespread sexual violence and all other violations of human rights of women and girls in situations of armed conflict.  Impunity for such acts was unacceptable.  If the national authorities were unable or unwilling to act, the international community had the responsibility to use all available tools to put an end to the impunity of the perpetrators of such crimes.  The international community and national authorities must respond more effectively to widespread, continued sexual violence in conflict situations, including through advocacy and sensitization campaigns; training of workers in the medical, psychological and legal assistance fields; identification of survivors through community-based networks; medical, psychological and legal assistance to victims; and efforts to curb impunity, including by supporting the prosecution of sexual violence crimes.  The zero-tolerance policy with respect to crimes committed by United Nations personnel had Slovakia’s full support.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement of Finland on behalf of the European Union, said that women’s full participation was vital to long-term stability, and women should receive respect and empowerment through education, employment and political participation.  For that purpose, the Peacebuilding Commission should carry through a gender perspective in all its activities.  Up to now, gender had not been included in a systematic way in peacekeeping missions.

The whole international community must take on the responsibility of redressing that problem in a coherent, coordinated and consistent way, he said.  The objective was simple -– to implement resolution 1325 -– and an action plan must be developed for each country, with the agreement of the Government, that assured that all funds programmes and agencies assumed particular responsibility for the separate elements of the resolution.  The Council would then be able to assess progress in a systematic way.

ELISABETH REHN ( Finland) speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that war and conflict were always horrific, but the effects on women and girls was often particularly devastating.  Women’s equal participation and full involvement was a prerequisite for achieving, maintaining and promoting sustainable peace.  To that end, Council resolution 1325 was in many ways a milestone, including in that it demanded protection of women and girls in conflict, and also called for giving women and girls an active voice and peacebuilding role during and in the aftermath of conflict.  But, six years after its adoption, there were still serious implementation gaps, she said, calling for more concrete steps to “change the way we see women, war and peace”.

She said that the international community must understand why women have been sidelined, and analyse existing gender gaps, prioritize women’s roles throughout the peace process and show leadership that ensured women’s empowerment and participation, as well as protection.  It was time to move from marginalization to action, because women at both grass-roots and national levels provided important insights and analysis to the peace-consolidation process.  The European Union would, therefore, urge the Council to increasingly encourage and utilize women’s voices.  It would also encourage efforts to facilitate women’s equal and active participation from the earliest stages of peace negotiation through reconstruction and political participation.

She went on to say that the number of women in United Nations peace operations remained low, and called on the Secretary-General to continue to identify and nominate women for senior posts, including as peace envoys.  But, boosting the number of women was not enough.  The international community must also engage in gender-specific institutional reform to make the institutions more responsive to women -- both regarding women who were served by and who served in those institutions.

She also said that post-conflict reconstruction provided an opportunity for legal and justice reform, and it was critical that that reform took full consideration of women’s special needs; better protecting them and removing any gender-discriminatory statutes and practices, especially concerning rights to land, property and inheritance.  The Union also stressed that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should allow women and girl combatants to register and participate in such initiatives.  Reconstituted police forces should work towards gender balance and should introduce gender-equality into their mandates, performance measures and oversight mechanisms.  The Union also believed that gender issues should figure heavily in security sector reform efforts, she added.

ANDERS LIDÉN ( Sweden) said that the implementation of resolution of 1325 should be an important factor in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, because it was fundamental for international peace, security, development, human rights and gender equality.  Believing that all States had a responsibility to provide ideas and practices, Sweden had completed its own national action plan to intensify its implementation, recognizing the importance of action at the national, regional and global levels.

He described action undertaken by his country at the national level, including systematic efforts in the armed services, as well as at the regional and global level.  He said awareness and condemnation of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions must continue.  His country had also proposed a new category of seconded civilian personnel as observers in peacekeeping missions to significantly increase the number of female mission members at the field level.

MICHAEL VON UNGERN-STERNBERG ( Germany) said peace construction and consolidation required patience and determination.  It also required the involvement of both women and men.  Far too often, women were left out of the process or made the targets of violence.  One month ago, the Head of the Department of Women’s Affairs in the southern Afghan Province of Kandahar had been brutally murdered.  In the face of such obstacles, the international community, national Governments and all actors must continue their efforts to make women matter in the construction or consolidation of peace.  Security Council resolution 1325 had been a landmark decision to that end.  “We must now strive to achieve its full implementation,” he said.

Stressing the need to take women’s needs into account when developing new policies in the area of conflict prevention, he welcomed that the new Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Support Office were called upon to integrate a gender perspective into their work.  That must be implemented now, in the field, as well as in New York.  Unfortunately, six years after the resolution’s adoption, sexual exploitation and abuse and the solicitation of prostitutes in peacekeeping operations was still an issue.  He strongly supported the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ zero-tolerance policy and welcomed its efforts to fight sexual exploitation and abuse.  To that end, Germany had pledged substantial financial support for the Department’s anti-prostitution campaign.

Promising examples of women’s involvement in the consolidation of peace had been seen in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burundi, he added.  In Afghanistan, under the Bonn Agreement and the new Constitution, women were taking an active part in peace consolidation and in the building of a new political reality at the national and provincial levels.  Much more needed to be done, however.  As a member of the group of friends of resolution 1325, Germany would continue to work for women’s equal participation and full involvement in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

MUTLAQ AL-QAHTANI ( Qatar) said his country placed the highest importance on the protection of women and girls during armed conflict and their participation in all aspects of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  The matter must be dealt with in a transparent way, and through methods that were consistent with the culture of each society.  He looked forward to an extension of the Action Plan that provided better groundwork for analysis, coordination and technical assistance for national plans.  The key to implementation of 1325 was commitment at both the international and national level, as well as accountability at all levels.

When the Council resumed in the afternoon, CHRISTINE MITURUMBWE, Coordinator of the Dushirehamwe Association, said Burundi had emerged from a 10-year-long conflict that had caused great material damage and human suffering.  While the people of Burundi welcomed the signing of the ceasefire agreement, most remained convinced that sustained efforts were needed in the peacebuilding period.  Burundian women had committed themselves to finding peace since 1961, seeking, in particular, better representation in decision-making positions.  Burundi’s Constitution and the Electoral Code did not refer to women’s participation at the grass-roots level; unfortunately, the 30 per cent quota for women in Government did not apply at that level.  It was, therefore, crucial that the international community support Burundi’s programme for good governance.  The current 30 per cent quota, which should be raised to 50 per cent, should be made applicable at the local level.

The process in Burundi was going forward slowly and challenges remained, she said.  She hoped the new Peacebuilding Commission would consider support for Burundi’s land commission as one of its priorities.  Failure in the country’s disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation programmes could endanger the progress achieved so far.  The international community should also support civil society.  Poverty affected all women, not only those who could not inherit land, but also those who rented land.  She appealed to the United Nations not to hold women hostage to the political situation in Burundi; direct access to financing would contribute to the peace-consolidation process.  In that regard, she recommended, among other things, the establishment by the United Nations of a trust fund that would receive contributions for at least five years.

MARIA DIAS, President of the non-governmental organization Rede Feto, said she represented a network of women’s organizations throughout Timor-Leste.  Describing the recent resurgence of violence in that country, she said women had been playing a crucial part in making men sit down at the table and negotiate.  Women’s organizations were also working with youth gangs to find out what they needed in peacetime.

To prevent another resurgence of violence in the country, it was crucial to engage both women and youth to treat trauma victims, create economic opportunities, bring perpetrators of acts of violence to justice, and reform the police forces.  In addition, education must be improved and services provided to victims of gender violence, and more initiatives were needed to encourage gender equality.

She called on the United Nations to review its operations of the past two years in Timor-Leste and to set up formal mechanisms that would allow women and youth to be heard, in order to create a more stable and permanent peace.

PASCAL GAYAMA ( Congo) said the number of women engaged in peace negotiations was still severely limited, and it was crucial that they were enabled to contribute more to peace and security through coordinated action by the United Nations and its Member States.  Congolese women were active in Great Lakes peace initiatives, and the Government had devised strategies to enhance their participation in the upcoming elections.

He said his Government was also concerned with the protection of women in conflict situations, where they were subject to wanton violence and the kind of trauma that degraded community life.  To encourage further progress, it was necessary to have better, disaggregated data and to further consider strategies based on real needs that would produce an impact on the ground.  Gender issues should be a human rights issue first and foremost; discrimination must be erased in development programmes, as well as in post-conflict reconstruction.

MARY CATHERINE PHEE ( United States) said the United Nations must act, and had acted, to acknowledge the role of women in the peace process and in post-conflict peacebuilding.  Women should be involved in making and maintaining peace after conflict.  Women continued to take on greater roles as agents of change; a healthy trend that all nations should foster.  Women’s involvement in processes to prevent conflict was also essential.  The United States took seriously women’s role in decision-making.

Citing examples of women’s successful participation in peace processes, she said Sierra Leone’s Government had included four women in the peace talks that had led to the signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement.  The Mano River Peace Network, which comprised women from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, had participated in peace talks.  Another African example was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where horrendous numbers of girls and women had been raped and violated.  Today, those groups continued an active campaign to mobilize the Government to hold those responsible for those crimes accountable.  In Nepal, women’s groups were not only active in pushing for peace, but were instrumental in ensuring a constitutional guarantee of women’s equal rights.

Despite such examples, there remained resistance to the notion that women could make a difference, she said.  Women’s exclusion in leadership roles was a result of deeply engrained perceptions, and change would require deliberate efforts by all.  Women’s unique roles were essential to both formal and informal peace processes.  Because women frequently outnumbered men in the post-conflict situation, they would have an important role to play in any peace agreement.  Incorporating the efforts of women peacebuilders meant more than the establishment of effective programmes.  Women not only had the right, but also the responsibility, to be a part of the consolidation of peace.

FRANK MAJOOR ( Netherlands), aligning himself with the statements made by Finland on behalf of the European Union and by Slovenia on behalf of the Human Security Network, said that enhancing women’s roles in the consolidation of peace required concrete action.  The tide must be turned against preventable conflict and its terrorization of women and other vulnerable groups, yet it continued.  Gender-based violence was not inevitable.

He said his country had established an inter-ministerial task force on women in situations of conflict and peacekeeping to ensure an integrated approach towards the issue, and it supported both national and international non-governmental organizations that empowered women.  The Netherlands had also provided funds to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to integrate a gender perspective, finding that commitment and accountability in the area were still limited, especially at senior and middle management levels.  Other challenges in the United Nations system included gaps in coordination, resulting in overlap of work.  In general, a more systematic approach to implementing resolution 1325 was needed.

HJALMAR HANNESSON (Iceland), aligning himself with the statement made by Finland on behalf of the European Union, underlined the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission and its Support Office in furthering progress in the implementation of resolution 1325, to ensure that women could fully and equally participate in rebuilding and reshaping their communities in the aftermath of war.

In the interest of implementing the resolution, his country’s policy on development cooperation for the period 2005-2009 placed special emphasis on gender issues in conflict areas and women’s role in peacebuilding, with the aim of giving equal opportunity to women through the project selection process.  Iceland had also increased its support to UNIFEM, particularly through a project in seven Balkan countries to increase awareness of women’s rights among public administrators.

FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) noted that not much had been done to implement the landmark resolution 1325, in particular in elaborating on reporting and monitoring mechanisms.  Women had suffered a great deal in armed conflict; they had been the victims of rape and violence, even suffering at the hands of some peacekeepers.  They often found themselves as the sole breadwinners when their husbands were fighting, or after they had died in fighting.  Yet, their role in conflict resolution was minimal, if not non-existent.  It was, therefore, important to mainstream a gender perspective in the work of institutions such as the Peacebuilding Commission.

Regarding women’s involvement in peace negotiations, he said it was advisable to include women in peace-negotiation delegations.  Staffing positions in relevant institutions dealing with peacekeeping and peacebuilding should also incorporate a gender perspective.  On the issue of gender-based violence, he stressed the need for zero tolerance for impunity.  He referred to atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda against women, and said Uganda was a partner with the International Criminal Court in ensuring that the perpetrators were made to answer for their crimes.

Regarding the ongoing talks in Juba, Southern Sudan, between Uganda’s Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army, he said that, despite some obstacles, progress had been made, and Uganda’s Government was determined to have the talks succeed.  In the event of a comprehensive peace agreement being reached, Uganda’s Government has offered amnesty to the indicted leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  It was important to balance the need for justice with imperatives of peace and stability in northern Uganda.  “We are not condoning impunity,” he said.  There were traditional ways of punishment while, at the same time, achieving justice and reconciliation, including reparations to the victims.  The Government had appointed a team of lawyers to study the Acholi tradition, and to ensure that impunity was not condoned.  The Government would make sure the traditional systems were consistent with international standards.

ALEXANDRA PAPADOPOULOU ( Greece) said it was encouraging that, since the adoption of resolution 1325 in 2000, pubic awareness had risen considerably and public opinion had become more sensitive with regard to women’s position in armed conflicts.  Unfortunately, that positive trend had not been coupled with the termination of violence against women in conflict situations.  The adoption, this year, of Council resolution 1674 (2006), on the protection of civilians, was yet another milestone in the protection of women in armed conflict.  Development, peace, security and human rights -– pillars of the United Nations system -– were interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  Women had an important role to play in each stage, from conflict-prevention to post-conflict reconstruction and stabilization.  The incorporation of the gender dimension in early warning activities and the actual use of that factor, both as an indicator contributing to a more comprehensive assessment of emerging conflicts and as an incentive to the timely planning of gender sensitive programmes, were positive steps.

Equally important was the incorporation of a gender perspective in the early phases of planning, and its mainstreaming into the mandates, of peacekeeping missions, she said.  There could be no sustainable peace and security without development.  Women’s empowerment was key to all development efforts.  Limited access to primary education and non-equitable access to employment contributed to the vicious circle of poverty and discrimination.  In that regard, she stressed the importance of incorporating the gender perspective in development policies, and noted that Greece financed development projects that fostered gender equality.

TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said he was encouraged by the progress made in implementing the System-wide Action Plan.  The challenge was to sustain that momentum, while striving to overcome the gaps in implementation.  In that regard, he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to renew the Action Plan beyond 2007.  While consensus existed on women’s positive contribution to peacebuilding and peace consolidation, their participation could not happen without aid.  In the name of tradition, culture, or even security, women had been excluded from decision-making over conflicts; too often they had been set aside while men brokered peace agreements.  Thankfully, more women were demanding involvement as stakeholders in their communities.  Their potential as peacebuilders must be harnessed.

He said concerted efforts were needed to strengthen the capacities of women networks to participate in all processes of peacebuilding and peace consolidation.  While encouraged by the increased participation of women in countries emerging from conflicts, he was concerned by women’s low representation across all areas of decision-making.  Affirmative action strategies needed to be considered in areas with low representation.  Advocacy of gender equality needed to be addressed at all times, and not as a single event.  Strongly condemning all acts of sexual violence by United Nations personnel, he supported measures taken by the Secretary-General in curbing “that shameful crime”.  The Peacebuilding Commission, given adequate resources, had a significant role to play in addressing gender equality in all spheres.   The international community could no longer afford to neglect the abuses to which women and girls were subjected in armed conflict and its aftermath.

The President of the Council, KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan), speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the country-specific work of the Peacebuilding Commission and its focus on Sierra Leone and Burundi, “specifically and emphatically” noting the importance of integrating gender perspectives into peacebuilding activities.  He said the debate on the role of women in peace and security should be informed by the concept of human security and the people-centred approach it advocated.  The ultimate goal of human security was to promote individual empowerment, and to protect individuals from threats.  Implementation of resolution 1325 should contribute to enhancing human security for women.  Women’s needs and priorities should be integrated into institutional reforms, so as to strengthen women’s empowerment and protection.

To promote human security in practice, he said his Government had set up a United Nations Fund for Human Security in 1999, which had supported more than 160 projects in more than 90 countries and regions.  Implemented in partnership with non-governmental organizations and civil society groups, many of the projects had contributed to empowering women and children.  A project in Burundi, for example, aimed to help returnees and internally displaced women improve their economic capacities.  That had facilitated community reconciliation and the co-existence of local populations and returnees.

CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) recalled that her country had reported on implementation of resolution 1325 in 2004, and she said implementation had continued judicially and through special programmes in cooperation with the United Nations system.  UNIFEM, for example, had been an important ally since the Peace and Security Programme had been created in 2003.  Laws had been enacted to protect, favour and promote the participation of women, both as heads of households and in public posts.  Both the Presidential Advisory Office for the Equality of Women and the Foreign Ministry were involved in implementing the resolution.  Among many other measures, a goal had been set for the 2006-2010 period to include a gender perspective in the foreign policy and international cooperation agenda, with an emphasis on social development issues.

For her country, she emphasized, building and maintaining peace were not limited to reaching peace accords with illegal armed groups.  Rather, she said, the Government kept in mind the need to maintain and strengthen peace through social, economic and political reforms to speed economic growth and job creation, and thus provide greater access to opportunities in education, health and social security.  That was the way to build societies that were more just and democratic, with a rightful place for women as a factor of development and social equity.

JOSÉ ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIÉRREZ ( Guatemala) said there had been a valuable growth of interest in protecting women in conflict situations, ending impunity and increasing the participation of women in peacemaking.  Guatemala had experienced conflict for many years, and the importance of women’s participation in its reconstruction was highly recognized.  He extended gratitude to all the organizations that had promoted the participation of women in that effort, particularly UNIFEM and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

He said equality for women was still far in the distance, however, and a gender perspective must be included in all the work of the United Nations.  In that light, Guatemala had been increasing women’s opportunities in its peacekeeping efforts.  The Plan of Action should be renewed beyond 2007, so that more progress could be achieved.  Not to include women at all levels of peacekeeping would be to further marginalize them, making them an even more vulnerable group.

ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia) said that, for further progress in implementing resolution 1325, there must be a general change in attitude concerning the importance of women as peacemakers and peacekeepers.  In addition, system-wide efforts to infuse gender into peace and security matters would greatly improve if the overlapping of efforts were minimized.  For that to happen, agencies must be made aware of the activities of their partners, and that required, in turn, better dissemination and sharing of information among United Nations bodies.

She said accelerated action was also needed to implement the resolution at the national and community levels, in full consultation with national authorities.  At the international level, a focal point or working group of the Security Council should be considered, but it would be equally beneficial if the general United Nations membership were allowed to participate more fully in the Council’s work.  Committed, sensitive leadership throughout the United Nations system was also crucial.

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY ( Bangladesh) noted that women suffered most as victims of conflict.  In the peace process, however, they were mostly deprived of its dividends, as their voices were not fully heard.  The international community must emphasize women’s effective participation at the peace-negotiation tables, not only in terms of number, but also in terms of decision-making power.  Women’s role in peace consolidation were extremely vital.  He welcomed the review of the System-wide Action Plan, and hoped that any weaknesses would be overcome through concerted efforts in the years to come.  He believed that integrating a gender perspective across the United Nations system would be considered instrumental, keeping in mind geographical, cultural and ethnic factors.

He said gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment were categorical imperatives for development and social stability.  Women’s empowerment also tended to marginalize extremist thought and action, thereby addressing a root cause of violence and terror.  He noted the award of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to micro-credit pioneer Professor [Muhammad] Yunus of Grameen Bank, and said it clearly demonstrated the linkage between women’s empowerment and peace.

The overall experience in implementing resolution 1325 at all levels of decision-making had been mixed, he said.  Sadly, violence against women continued to occur in war, as well as in peace.  As one of the largest troop-contributing countries, Bangladesh remained conscious of the responsibilities to incorporate essential elements of resolution 1325 in the predeployment training of its peacekeepers.  The protection of women and girls from gender-based violence and abuse should be the international community’s primary responsibility.  As a member of the Peacebuilding Commission, Bangladesh was committed to increase focus on the provisions of resolution 1325.  The protection of women and girls from gender-based violence and abuse was a primary and enduring responsibility and there should be zero tolerance with respect to the perpetrators.

SILVIA ESCOBAR (Spain), aligning herself with Finland’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said that women’s equality and protection must be achieved as a matter of human rights, and the Security Council should consider creating a focal point on women, peace and security.  It was still true that few Council resolutions reflected attention to resolution 1325, and that matter must be addressed.

She said Spain would be chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) soon, and it intended to promote the implementation of resolution 1325 through that position and through its development assistance, which had increased rapidly in the area of women’s issues.  She described much work in that area, supported through Spanish cooperation funding and other assistance efforts.

FILIMONE KAU ( Fiji) said his delegation regarded resolution 1325 as the international instrument that provided guidance to national policies and practices, in all aspects of conflict prevention, peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction.  More important, the resolution was the authority on the gender dimensions and women’s role in those areas and, in particular, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.   He, therefore, supported the call for the expeditious implementation of actions that would accelerate implementation of the resolution.  All parts of the United Nations system must, in partnership with Member States, own and drive the process, if gender equality measures were to be realized.

He also called on the international community and partners to help Member States in need of assistance in the implementation process; an area requiring immediate attention was the development of national action plans as a remedy for unsystematic and ad-hoc implementation at the national level.  He said small developing countries like Fiji needed guidance and partnerships in areas of capacity, and technical skills in the formulation of national plans and strategies on resolution 1325.  Such action plans must be developed after wide consultations with civil society organizations and should include monitoring and reporting mechanisms.  The Council had been seized with the issue for six years.  Despite some milestones, more could be achieved.  As a member of the Peacebuilding Commission, Fiji would call for more active efforts from both the Commission and the Support Office to ensure effective action-oriented programmes for women’s involvement in peacebuilding.

CHEICK AHMED TIDIANE CAMARA ( Guinea) said that, with the sixth anniversary of the resolution, it was up to the international community to give new impetus to the commitments it contained, as well as to the action plans and strategies for conflict-prevention management and post-conflict peacebuilding.  To achieve the objectives set forth in the resolution, it was necessary for women to achieve an equal footing in the area of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  In that regard, he stressed, among other things, the need to ensure women’s participation in decision-making bodies.  Institutional reforms at all levels, and the provision of sufficient technical and financial assistance for capacity-building, were also needed.  It was also necessary to ensure that resolution 1325 remained at the heart of the peace and development process.

He noted that, at the regional and international levels, effective steps were needed to compel all concerned to conclude partnerships to ensure women’s participation in peace processes.  The review of resolution 1325 represented a source of hope.  That hope would not be in vain; indeed, it could be fulfilled, if the international community demonstrated the necessary will and acted in conformity with its commitments.

LEBOHANG MAEMA ( Lesotho), on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that women were among the first to sound the alarm about looming crises.  Unfortunately, their voices continued to be ignored, and they must be heard at all phases of peace maintenance.  Expressing appreciation for measures taken by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to hold regular meetings with women representatives in conflict-affected countries, he said it was a priority to empower women to participate in politics and decision-making, so that they could, indeed, attend such meetings.

He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s strategy to address acts of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions, although further concrete actions were needed.  In general, he added, accelerated implementation of the report’s recommendations was necessary, to realize the goals of resolution 1325.  For that reason, he supported renewing the System-wide Action Plan beyond the year 2007.

MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said the report on the implementation of resolution 1325 evoked both achievement and confusion.  There was progress, but there were also unexplained, incomplete responses to questionnaires, as well as mystifying statements, such as the one contained in paragraph 38, implying that the System-wide Action Plan was merely a compilation of activities planned or ongoing in United Nations entities.  That suggested that Member States were not leading the process of the advancement of women.

He said that all States supported enhancing the role of women in peace and security, and that the work of the entire United Nations membership, as well as of General Assembly bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, must be included in the efforts.  At this stage, it was crucial to include the Peacebuilding Commission and other new organs.  The Action Plan should become a complete United Nations strategy, with clearly defined objectives, for which the Secretariat should ensure implementation.

CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNANDEZ ( El Salvador) said resolution 1325 was “the basis for a cross-cutting examination of gender issues in post-conflict peacebuilding”.  The Peacebuilding Commission provided a new opportunity to implement such an approach to gender issues.  Establishing lasting peace meant promoting women’s participation in decision-making at all levels, in particular in the political and economic areas.  It was important that an official be appointed within the Peacebuilding Support Office to follow-up on the incorporation of a gender perspective in peacebuilding strategies.

The experience of women and children in times of war and conflict was different from that of men, she said.  Women and children had become strategic targets within armed conflict, which was an unacceptable situation.  She highlighted the need to focus on the gender repercussions of migration, particularly when it was a direct consequence of armed conflict.  She said there had been an increasing feminization of international migration, and it was, therefore, essential to promote a cross-cutting analysis of that phenomenon to implement measures to protect women’s rights.

The time had come for action, she said.  In that regard, the Council should encourage the initiatives adopted by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to strengthen institutional mechanisms to promote a growing inclusion of gender mainstreaming in different peacekeeping operations; that was why she favoured gender units within peace operations.  El Salvador welcomed the United Nations efforts to implement resolution 1325, in particular the drawing up of the manual, or guide for action, on women, peace and security.  Elaborating plans of action to implement the commitments under 1325 was an innovative and necessary step to make progress in gender mainstreaming.

ABDAL HALEEM ( Sudan) expressed his appreciation for the importance the Council had attached to the promotion of peace in the Sudan.  The Council’s adoption of resolution 1325 had shown the importance it attached to women, peace and security.  The resolution constituted a comprehensive recognition of the status of women.  Whenever wars erupted, there were violations of human rights, he said.   War was war, and it was a source of regret that the greater majority of those impacted by conflict were civilians, mostly women and children.  The promotion of a gender perspective in reconstruction and rehabilitation should include, among other things, technical assistance and women’s training programmes in the area of health and education.  The Sudan relied on United Nation agencies in that regard.

He noted that, at the national level, the issue of women had been a main priority in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Darfur Peace Agreement, which included stipulations to ensure women’s rights.  National legislation had given women a pioneering role in the Sudan; indeed, the Sudan’s Parliament was the first legislative body in the region to include women.  Until today, he added, Sudan had quotas for women’s participation in Parliament.  Women’s representation had continued to grow at all levels of decision-making.  The Council’s debate would reflect positively on the role of women in today’s world.

MEIRAV EILON SHAHAR ( Israel) said that there was no doubt that the advancement of women would translate into progress for all.  For that reason, she had encouraged the identification of women candidates for senior level positions within the United Nations system, with particular attention to Special Representatives.  Recognizing the importance of women in peace negotiations, she described programmes in her country that created awareness of resolution 1325 and provided recommendations for national legislation in accordance with it.

In that spirit, she said, her Government was mandated to include women in any group involved in peacebuilding negotiations and conflict resolution.  Such women, along with the vigorous Israeli-Palestinian women’s peace movement, might bring renewed dynamism to negotiations.  The election of Hamas, however, had made the identification of women representatives from the Palestinian side more difficult, while there was still a visible movement of Israeli women advocating for peace.  She said that Israeli and Palestinian women had met recently under the auspices of the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

MIRJANA MLADINEO ( Croatia), aligning her statement with that of Finland on behalf of the European Union, said that the international community must not remain passive, while witnessing gross violations of women’s rights.  Perpetrators must be punished, with no exceptions, and protection must be guaranteed when it was promised.  For such reasons, women must be given a more prominent role in peacebuilding operations, and in the Peacebuilding Commission that would oversee them.  It was also a national responsibility to stop the marginalization of women in post-conflict efforts, especially when it came to encouraging equality in military and police observer units.

KYAW TINT SWE ( Myanmar) said he shared the view that gender equality played an essential role in advancing development, peace and security.  His country’s traditions and values abhorred and prohibited sexual exploitation of women, and strongly contributed to the Government’s endeavours to protect women and girls from human rights abuses.

Myanmar, he said, had suffered from nearly five decades of insurgency, and he recognized that women and girls suffered disproportionately from such conflicts.  The women of Myanmar were taking an active part in the National Convention that was developing principles for a new Constitution to put an end to the violence.  Women’s groups had also been in the forefront of fighting terrorism.  In further implementing resolution 1325, the capabilities of the entire United Nations system needed to be strengthened in the area of gender issues.

Z.D. MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) noted that last week, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki had decreed that 30 per cent of all public-service jobs would be reserved for women.  Mr. MUBURI-MUITA said Women’s concerns must form an integral part of any peace process.  The traditional stereotypes that kept women away from negotiating tables must be broken.  He expressed deep gratitude to the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report.

Despite progress, he added, numerous challenges stood in the way of the implementation of resolution 1325, including lack of leadership and commitment, lack of adequate accountability mechanisms and limited inter-agency coordination.  In that regard, he welcomed the comprehensive recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report to overcome those challenges and to strengthen the implementation.

He said Kenya appreciated that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had made great strides in promoting gender balance among peacekeeping personnel.  The incorporation of full-time gender advisers in peacekeeping missions had been useful in that regard.  The Department should redouble its efforts towards achieving the goal.  It must develop and disseminate effective guidelines to ensure sustained efforts in gender mainstreaming at all levels of peacekeeping operations.

Kenya, he added, had made deliberate efforts to increase women’s participation in peacekeeping missions.  Women still needed considerable support to be effective in new democratic and legal structures, which had been traditionally dominated by men.  In the past decade, UNIFEM had been at the forefront in promoting the role of women in peacebuilding and post-conflict transition, especially on the African continent.

PATRICK M. RITTER ( Liechtenstein) said it was crucial that the Peacebuilding Commission established the necessary mechanisms to facilitate, together with the countries concerned, the participation of representatives from women’s local groups and networks.  Such mechanisms would also have to encompass financial and other support to those groups and networks to enable their effective engagement with the Commission.  While he commended the Council for its measures to further implement resolution 1325, he was concerned that, six years after its adoption, the Council still had no systematic way to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in its work.  He therefore joined other delegations in calling on the Council to establish a focal point or an expert-level working group for the purpose.

He said there continued to be widespread lack of awareness of the fact that women needed to be enabled to play an active role in connection with armed conflicts and peacebuilding.  The United Nations and its operations on the ground were perfectly placed to utilize that largely untapped resource.  Liechtenstein had long advocated the appointment of women as Special Representatives and Envoys of the Secretary-General, since such appointments could play a catalytic role for women’s stronger involvement in peace processes.  Progress on the representation of women in leadership positions had, however, again been disappointing.  He was aware of the need to provide the Secretary-General with names of well-qualified candidates for such posts, but he had no doubt that there were enough suitable candidates for those functions.

MAHMOUD MOHAMED ABOUD ( Comoros) said his country had been in an unstable situation since its independence and, for that reason, women had not been able to participate in national development.  Since the recent elections, however, new opportunities had opened up, and the country was now able to act on the commitments it had already made.

Up until now, women were still marginalized in Comoros, and new initiatives had been created by the Government, along with its partners, to redress that situation.  Thanking his country’s partners in that effort, he asked for further support for those initiatives and for the widespread dissemination of similar ones, which would make it possible to promote the status of women throughout the world.

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*     The 5555th Meeting was closed.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.